Senate GOP Fails To Defund Planned Parenthood In Wake Of Video Debacle

Outrage continues amidst polarizing debate.

Weeks after anti-abortion activists released four videos of Planned Parenthood employees allegedly discussing the sale of fetal tissue, a measure to defund Planned Parenthood failed in the Senate on Monday with a 53-46 vote.

Senate Republicans were seven votes short of the necessary 60 to pass a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. The vote came after outrage from Republican politicians over the footage turned to a push to cut funding for a program that serves the medical needs of nearly 2.7 million Americans. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was one of the notable votes against the bill, but explained his decision was only to keep the door open for a future vote to defund the organization.

Supporters of Planned Parenthood argued that only three percent of their total funds are used in abortion-related services, while the rest goes to things like birth control, cancer screenings and tests for sexually transmitted infections. On the other side, Republicans who support the bill say that they would like the approximately $500 million of federal funding, which contributes to the $1.3 billion of total funding Planned Parenthood receives, to be re-distributed to organizations including community health centers that provide similar services to 21 million people. 

Some Republican leaders have called for shutting down the government.

"While some extreme Republicans may continue to insist on shutting down the government in order to deny health care, including birth control, to millions of women, that is a fight the American people have zero appetite for and a fight these extremists will not win," Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said in a statement

Among those Republicans who advocated shutting down the government was Donald Trump, who, as of Tuesday morning, leads all 2016 Presidential candidates in the polls by double digits. 

As NPR reported, the push to defund Planned Parenthood has been going on for decades. Despite the fact that none of the federal money for Planned Parenthood can be used for abortions, as per the Hyde amendment, they remain the largest provider of abortion services simply because of their size. The heated debate over funding has sparked rallies and protests across the country, but as of Monday's vote there will be no changes to the funding until it is revisited in the fall.

Before Monday's vote, Senator Elizabeth Warren took the floor to give harsh criticism to House Republicans.

"Do you have any idea what year it is?" Warren asked. "Did you fall down, hit your head, and think you woke up in the 1950's or the 1890's? Should we call for a doctor? Because I simply cannot believe that in the year 2015, the United States Senate would be spending its time trying to defund women's health care centers. You know, on second thought, maybe I shouldn't be that surprised. The Republicans have had a plan for years to strip away women's rights to make choices over our own bodies. Just look at the recent facts."

Warren went on to list several facts about Planned Parenthood's service, most notably that one in five women say they have used Planned Parenthood at least once in their lives. Get the message out about this important issue by sharing below. 

Cover photo via Getty Images/Olivier Douliery